Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Elastic-bound dog gets a new home as former owner faces charge


The tightly wrapped rubber band dug into the 9-month-old puppy's snout for days.

It kept him from eating. Ripped through skin and muscle around his muzzle. Bore a large hole through the top of his snout, where the constant pressure ate away at weaker bones.

Veterinarians didn't know what to make of the abused dog's unusual injuries.

They didn't know if he would ever fully recover or what nerves might have been irreparably damaged.

Less than two months later, they have an answer:

Despite a small scar circling his snout and a tiny hole, Sox is one happy puppy.

And now he has a new family.

• • •

An alert schoolteacher first notified authorities about Sox.

Two students, both under 10, had told her they thought their puppy was dying slowly in their bathroom.

Their teacher called the SPCA Tampa Bay. An investigator went to the children's home on Dec. 12 and found the dog, his mouth clamped shut, covered in fleas and feces, a stinking wound on his muzzle. The owner seemed unconcerned, they said, but promised to take him to the vet.

The investigator came back the next day and the owner relinquished control to the SPCA.

The 18-pound Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix arrived for medical care. SPCA Tampa Bay veterinarian Rizal Lopez consulted with other surgeons.

"We hadn't seen a wound of this magnitude," he said. "We don't typically see rubber bands or strings tied (around the muzzle)."

It's much more common to see collar injuries like this, where the constant pressure from embedded chains, for example, tears away at the skin and muscle.

Sox's prognosis was uncertain.

• • •

Lori Chambers read of Sox's abuse toward the end of December and was heartbroken. Weeks later, the 51-year-old Largo woman still couldn't talk about the story without choking up.

She knew what needed to be done: Find Sox a good home.

"I was afraid that nobody would want him," Chambers said. "I couldn't let that happen."

So she and her daughter, Christina, 32, took action. They tracked his case online, filled out adoption papers and made calls to the SPCA. In early February, she learned that her family was one of three who would interview for the chance to adopt Sox. She, her husband, daughter, granddaughter and two dogs all went to the appointment. They finally met Sox.

"That was when I knew I didn't want him to go with anyone else," she said. "It was really hard leaving that meeting."

On Feb. 9, she got the good news over the phone. The next day, Sox moved in. Coincidentally, that same day, Sox's former owner was charged with animal cruelty.

• • •

Sox is mostly healed now.

Sometimes his snout itches where the small hole remains, but that just requires a little vitamin E, Chambers said.

The 11-month-old multicolored mix is energetic and sweet. He loves playing with his stuffed brown reindeer, often seen hanging from his mouth as he jogs about the house or lying next to him in his bed.

He has his moments of skittishness, Chambers said, especially when he hears barks or loud noises. But mostly he just wants to play.

"His personality is so alive," Chambers said. "He's just happy. We weren't expecting this. We thought it was going to be tough for him. It's almost like he has no clue what happened to him.

"He's just alive. He's vivid. He's very, very happy."

• • •

Sox's former owner, 32-year-old Tieesha Cogdell of Clearwater, was charged with first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty about two months after the puppy was taken from her home.

Reached by phone Wednesday, she declined to comment. Her arraignment is set for Monday.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at or (727) 893-8804.

Elastic-bound dog gets a new home as former owner faces charge 02/22/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]
  3. Man injured when small helicopter crashes into Odessa home


    ODESSA — A small manned helicopter crashed into the roof of a house in northwest Hillsborough County on Monday, injuring a pilot, officials said.

    Rescuers respond to a crash of a small helicopter on the roof of a home in the Odessa area on Monday. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  4. State investigation cites multiple failures in death of Largo child


    LARGO — It was sweltering in the bedroom of the Largo mobile home the day a child welfare case manager visited in July.

    Liz Rutenbeck, 24, poses with her son William in a Facebook photo. Baby William Hendrickson IV died while his mother was in jail after police said his father left ihim in a sweltering room.  A state investigation into the boy's death found multiple failures on the part of the child welfare system.
  5. 'Siesta Key' star punched in face, not sure who did it


    TAMPA —Alex Kompothecras, cast member on MTV's reality show "Siesta Key," tells police he was punched in the face outside a bar in Tampa's SoHo district.

    Alex Kompothecras, Juliette Porter, Pauly Apostolides, Madisson Hausburg, Chloe Trautman, Garrett Miller, Kelsey Owens and Brandon Gomes pose for a photo in Siesta Key in June before the debut of the MTV reality series Siesta Key. [
EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]